Fifteen members of the Botanical Society joined John Rogers for an inspiring and entertaining power point on the Eastern Bluebird.
John is a recognized authority on bluebird conservation and co-founder of the New York State Bluebird Society. Recipient of many prestigious awards, he is an experienced birder and a member of the Onondaga Audubon Society.
He said that when the Pilgrims saw bluebirds in 1620, they called them Blue Robin. Bluebirds are actually related to Robins as both are in the Thrush family. The Eastern Bluebird is a bit larger than a sparrow. Coloring is blue with a rusty red breast and appears round-shouldered when perched. The female is duller and the young bird is speckle-breasted, devoid of red and always has the telltale blue on wings and tail. Their range is East of the Rockies and from Canada to the Gulf States; also Arizona to Nicaragua. The bluebird population has fallen dramatically due to loss of habitat, pesticides, and starlings that prefer to nest in their boxes. Therefore, John has worked to maintain an extensive trail of bluebird nest boxes in central New York north of Oneida Lake. In two decades he has fledged over 12,000 Eastern Bluebirds.
Location and type of box are essential for maintaining such a population. Placement of boxes should be in sparse, short vegetation and in pairs 6-12 feet apart. To avoid predators, boxes should be on a pole (preferably metal), 5-6 feet above the ground, with an opening of 1 ½ to 1-¾ inches to keep out the starlings. Most bluebirds migrate and return in March. If males have no mate they return first and sing and display. Through banding, he has found that if the bird was successful one year, it will return to the same box the following year. Nesting is in April and May with 3 to 6 blue and white eggs per clutch. Incubation is 12-14 days. The adults brood for several days and then leave in the daytime to feed hatchlings mealworms. Fledging is in 17-22 days but the adults continue to feed for another month. They often have two nestings per year, the second being in July. The birds molt and then migrate in October.
He encouraged all of us to put up bluebird boxes or chickadee boxes if we have a small yard. He had boxes to build for sale and many of us did buy to build and put up in the spring.
Although his theme was bluebirds, John demonstrated his passion about the entire natural world.